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Awesome Attractions in Taiping, Malaysia

I Fell in Love with Taiping, Malaysia

Last updated: January 2023

It was my first trip abroad (2015), and going somewhere that was rarely traveled to appeal to the rebellious and the reckless in me. A week in Malaysia would mean a selfie with the Petronas Tower at the least, a walk around Penang, a glimpse of Melacca culture, and a trek around Cameron Highlands. In a world of independent travel itineraries provided by travel bloggers—which were helpful in many ways—I wanted to do something random, going somewhere that does not appeal to many travelers.

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After checking Malaysia’s map, I found several places that I have not heard of much: Ipoh, Sekinchan, and Taiping. Places that can be considered the spaces between the popular Point A and the equally touristy B. At Pudung Sentral, the old terminal, (the new terminal is now Terminal Bersepadu Selatan [TBS]), a 30-min train ride away the bus that would leave the earliest was that of Taiping. So off to Taiping I did.

Contrary to itineraries provided by travel blogs, mine included, you can dance to your own tempo. The best trips I ever had are not, cannot be itineraried.

After three bus rides and after several locals’ help, I reached Taiping without knowing where to stay for the coming two nights. It was almost dark, but one of the first lessons I learned in Malaysia: the sun sets an hour later than in the Philippines! So it was fine.

My day may sound hard in words, but it was not really. Had it rained, it would have been a scene from a drama series: me dragging my wheeled backpack with a crying face that says it all: why am I doing this to myself.


Luck was on my side. A young local man dropped me off to the hotel nearest to Taiping Lake Garden, without knowing that it would cost me P2500.00 and without knowing that I was on a budget. So I left the hotel, and I met Sir Mani who was jogging around the lake. It was him who drove me to two hotels. The first one was way beyond my budget (80RM, Php930.00). I reluctantly handed my credit card, but the hotel’s credit card machine would not read it. And I did not have enough cash with me. I had a little misadventure with my ATM card in Kuala Lumpur. The first two tries in an HSBC ATM at KLIA2 did not work, and I was assuming my bank forgot to activate my debit card. With Metrobank, the account holder has to inform the bank you are traveling abroad.


So I was looking for that particular budget hotel, the cheapest I could find online, but I had no Internet for the time-being. Aside from driving me around, Sir Mani checked the hotels in Taiping online till we found Sojourn Bed and Café, which turned out to be more than a budget hotel, it is a travel-themed backpackers’ place bordering to a boutique hotel.


With all the hurdles of traveling to an unknown place, the bigger question now is, “why?” Well, one is, I am simply arrogant and hardheaded. I resist following travel itineraries to heart, which is rather ironic for someone who churns out pseudo-travel guides for work.  Because I follow my own senses or the lack thereof—I have a terrible case of directional disorder. Because, why not?

Contrary to itineraries provided by travel blogs, mine included, you can dance to your own tempo. The best trips I ever had are not, cannot be itineraried.

Just make sure you won’t miss an international flight. 

The Top Taiping Attractions to Visit 

Taiping, Malaysia, a quaint town tucked away in the northern region of Peninsular Malaysia, is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by intrepid travelers. With its rich history and natural beauty, Taiping is the perfect destination for those looking for a unique and off-the-beaten-path adventure. From the tranquil lakes and lush gardens, to the charming colonial architecture and lively local markets, there is something for everyone in this charming town. So pack your bags, grab your camera, and come explore the many wonders of Taiping, where the past and present meet in perfect harmony.

Taiping Lake Garden

Or it must be the trees. Or the people, as I mentioned on my column. These days, hitting Google’s “Images” button helped me a lot in decided where to go. Letting the place speaks for itself, as they say. I know, photos can be deceiving, but beautiful, naturally beautiful places are hard to fake, especially if it involves old trees.


The branches of the rain trees, or acacia trees as we commonly called them in the Philippines, are so sleek, elegant, and yielding. They reached and touched the lake on the other side of the road. The moment was so Li Po or Basho. And it is rather rare to find trees that do not yield to the human’s whims. Here in Taiping Lake Garden, the vertical clearances are not uniform and dependent on the branches’ height. So it was rather magical to see vehicles slowing down and following the will of the branches.

The lake itself is not altogether natural. In the early 19th century, Taiping was known for its mining industry. When the industry closed down, it left a heavily scarred ground and artificial lakes.


I rented a bicycle and cycled my way around the garden. The place was as serene as it was photographable. There was enough space for everyone. The garden is so huge that you do not feel intrusive to anyone’s affair. There are many lakes and ponds, and surrounding them are different types of faunas and floras: trees, dwarf bamboos, and huge lotus to name three. And for someone who loves the sight of greens, the whole garden is a real marvel for a gardener.

In the morning and afternoon where the light is not painful to the skin anymore, locals jog, exercise, bike, angle, walk, or find a good seat, and relax. For me, the visit to Taiping Lake Garden to see its old rain trees is the singular top thing to do in Taiping.

Scars can be beautiful. 


At Night | Night Food Market

Every night, just across from Sojourn Bed and Café is a food market, one of the famous Taiping attractions I would say. There was a big screen set up for diners to watch TV while eating. Despite the inability to understand anything, I sat there, waited for my food like everybody else, and watched.


It was my third day in Malaysia, and the food was enjoyable and varied: Malay, Chinese, and Indian.

I had tried some noodles, but the rice eater is rather stubborn. I enjoyed my rice meals so much more.


Food outside the tourist trail is a lot cheaper. Back in Kuala Lumpur, a meal in Chinatown cost me 13.00RM ($3, Php150), but places that locals frequent such as  Lai Foong Restaurant only cost me RM5.50 ($1.5, Php65.00) In Taiping , I spent 5.50 RM ($1.5, Php65.00) for a lovely clay-pot meal! 


Another Interesting Place | Kuala Sepetang-Matang

Following the recommendation of the guesthouse owner, I hopped in the local bus (the driver and conductor are both old, much to my amusement) to Kuala Sepetang-Matang, a place—according to the brochure I got from the pile of different brochures in the guesthouse—of “ECO. HERITAGE. SEAFOOD.”


Sometimes I find it more fulfilling to not follow  what I am advised to do, especially when I am in a foreign place.

I just walked around up to the bridge overlooking the bay where fishermen docked their boats. I would have wanted to talk with the locals, but the streets were mostly empty.

Based on the brochure, this area has:

  • The largest mangrove forest reserve in Peninsular Malaysia
  • A thriving fishing village protected from the mangrove forest
  • Fresh and scrumptious seafood
  • Mee Udang Banjir and Blood Cockles Curry Mee
  • Sunset Watch over the Strait of Malacca at Kuala Sangga
  • Dolphin and Egret Sighting, Eagle Feeding
  • Firefly sighting at Kampung Dew
  • Kuala Sepetang Charcoal Factory
  • Malaysia First Railway line linking Port Weld and Taiping
  • History of British intervention into Perak administration
  • Century-old mosques, temples, and churches


Have I done any of those? Nope. Aside from being on a tight budget, sometimes I find it more fulfilling to not follow  what I am advised to do, especially when I am in a foreign place.

I enjoyed my few hours here, walking and eating laksa in a small stall whose owner could not speak English at all yet you could feel that she was very friendly and nice. The elementary girls who had a quick stop for some drinks before heading home on their bicycles, helped the lady in translating the price of my drink and noodles.

When the next bus arrived, I boarded it.

I was caught between doing something more and not doing anything at all.

Some Other Taiping Attractions to Visit 

Perak Museum

The Perak Museum in Taiping, Malaysia is a treasure trove of history, culture, and knowledge that’s sure to delight visitors of all ages. Housed in a beautiful colonial-era building, the museum is a veritable time capsule, showcasing the rich heritage of the state of Perak and the people who have called it home for centuries. From traditional costumes and artifacts, to natural history specimens and interactive exhibits, the Perak Museum offers a glimpse into the past that will leave you feeling like a time traveler. But don’t be fooled by its old-world charm, this museum also have a great collection of historical information about Peninsular Malaysia. So whether you’re a history buff, a culture vulture, or just looking for a fun and educational outing, the Perak Museum is a must-visit destination in Taiping.

Taiping Zoo & Night Safari

Get ready for an adventure like no other at the Taiping Zoo & Night Safari, where the wildest creatures from the farthest corners of the globe come to play. From majestic tigers and powerful elephants, to curious monkeys and colorful parrots, this zoo offers visitors the chance to get up close and personal with some of the world’s most fascinating animals. But what makes Taiping Zoo & Night Safari truly unique is the night safari experience, where visitors can explore the zoo under the cover of darkness, and witness the nocturnal creatures in their natural habitat, as the sun goes down and the stars come out. It’s a wild and exciting adventure that you’ll never forget. Just don’t forget to bring your sense of adventure and a sense of humor, because this zoo is sure to have you roaring with laughter and excitement

The Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve

The Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve in Taiping, Malaysia is the ultimate destination for nature lovers with a sense of humor. This lush and verdant forest is home to a wide variety of plant and animal life, including the elusive mudskipper and the acrobatic macaque monkey. But don’t let the tranquility of the forest fool you, there’s always something amusing happening at the Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve. For instance, during the low tide, you might be able to spot mudskippers “dancing” on mudflats as they search for food, Or you might see the monkeys swinging from tree to tree and chattering away like they’re gossiping. And let’s not forget the giant pitcher plants that look like they’re ready to swallow you whole, you might want to give them a wide berth. So if you’re looking for a nature walk with a touch of comedy, the Matang Mangrove Forest Reserve is the place for you. Just make sure to bring your sense of humor and a good pair of walking shoes.

Bukit Larut

Bukit Larut, also known as Maxwell Hill, is Taiping’s highest peak, and it’s a true hidden gem. It’s the perfect spot for nature-lovers, adventure seekers and people that just want to escape the hustle and bustle of the city.

The climb up Bukit Larut is a bit of a workout, but it’s well worth the effort, with its misty air and the forested trails. The views from the top are simply breathtaking, with panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains, lush jungles and tea plantations. But beware, it’s not just the physical climb that will make you break a sweat, the weather up there can be quite unpredictable, one moment you’re surrounded by mist, and the next moment by sunshine, you never know what you’re gonna get. It’s the ultimate destination for those looking to get away from it all and reconnect with nature, with a touch of adventure and a dash of unpredictability. So pack your backpack, wear your best hiking shoes and head to Bukit Larut for a truly wild and adventurous experience.

Where to Stay in Taiping

Sojourns Bed and Café: a Creative Backpackers’ Place
Flemington Hotel: Near Taiping Lake Garden
Novotel Taiping
Louis Hotel 
Axis Hotel

Things to do in Taiping

A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit

Jona of Backpacking with a Book

Hi there, I’m Jona, originally from Cebu, Philippines, had live in Hanoi, Vietnam, and now currently based in Munich, Germany. This blog used to house thoughts on life and books, but eventually it morphed into a travel blog. For collaborations, projects, and other things, please email me at For essays, creative nonfiction, and others, find me elsewhere.

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  1. Jai says:

    Hey. Glad to read that you’ve came to my hometown, where not everyone mostly tourists know about this place!

  2. I haven’t heard about Taiping yet, and its always make me happy whenever I find out new places to explore. I as well always have trouble when I use my credit card exactly during the time when I travel. I like those old trees that I won’t mind having a stiff neck just to gaze to its natural beauty.


    • Hi there, Lai!

      It is a weird habit of mine to stare at maps and go to a place I have never been to. Yeah, those trees are the sole reason I found my way to Taiping. What credit card are you using? Some would ask for an activation before your trip abroad.

      Thanks for dropping by, Lai!

  3. Hi Jona! Taiping has to be one of my favorite “non-popular” cities in Malaysia. Glas you enjoyed the Lake Gardens as much as I do!

  4. Christian Miranda says:

    Hi, how did you to Taiping from Ipoh? Thanks

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